Wednesday, November 28, 2012

*Magical* People

At a recent neurodevelopmental appointment for Jasper, I got a random reminder about the amazing people in our life. Usually when retelling anything, I include far too much detail. Along with details of Jasper’s birth, medical history, and various therapies, I could not help but mention a few of these people to our practitioner. Listening to our story, she was reassuring, empathetic, and compassionate. You had a hard time at the beginning, she started, a sentiment that can still bring tears to my eyes. But you have these magical people who have fallen into your life to help. We do not have family here in Seattle. Instead we have Magical People.

From the beginning, when Jasper was a newborn, I was struck by how differently people treated me - the kindness we are all capable of - both friends and random strangers. At first this came in the form of supportive, caring responses when friends learned via Facebook that something was wrong with Jasper and we were still in the hospital a week after his birth. Before that, the superficial part of me worried that someone would figure out why I was not posting dozens of photos of Jasper after he was born, that something had gone wrong. Jasper was a few days old when I posted the first photo. He was hooked up to numerous machines with tubes and wires, with patches crammed here and there on his small, fragile body, enclosed in his isolette - I did not want to show that. In the first photo of Jasper, I am holding him, tubes and wires neatly wrapped up, hidden beneath a blanket. He fell right to sleep, a rare moment in his mother’s arms.

The messages from caring friends buoyed me. Friends, a few who I hardly knew, sent personal messages. Once Jasper was finally home, some came to visit - people I would not have expected, people I will never forget. Some went out of their way, all the way to South Seattle, to bring food.

In a previous post, I described Rob, who I now consider one of our Magical People. (This evening at swim class at Children’s Hospital, I thought again about the experience I wrote about in that post, the power of that emotional breaking down still takes my breath away.) In the dimness and uncertainty that accompanied Jasper’s birth, Rob was a constant, smiling, beaming presence. He was there to tell me that I was not alone, that everything would be Ok.

Eve was Jasper's first babysitter. She fell into our lives easily, highly recommended by my former prenatal yoga instructor. She was exactly what both Jasper and I needed. Jasper was just shy of three months old. He still felt impossibly fragile and had yet to have a normal EEG. (I held my breath between EEG appointments, waiting for that perfect result.) Eve had been a pediatric nurse for ten years, she adored babies, and she adored Jasper. She and I did not click at first but I stuck it out because she loved Jasper. Eve was one of the first people, other than me, that Jasper could recognize. Although she was a nurse - she currently works in geriatrics, the opposite end of the spectrum - she was far from conventional. It was hard to ignore the cloud of patchouli that followed Eve everywhere. She no longer even wore patchouli, it simply seeped out of her pores from years of overuse. Eve was from Scotland. In her thick accept, she would describe her plans to wrap Jasper in pastry while I was away....WHAAAT??? I would think, horrified, before recognizing the endearing sentiment. Eve was in her 50s, unmarried, possibly gay. She had short, cropped, dark auburnish hair, adorned herself in the most brilliant colors she could find. She did not drive but rode her 50-pound bike everywhere. She often told me Jasper needed more tie-dye in his wardrobe (he had none). Regardless of how I'd dressed him, after being with Eve, Jasper would be in his most colorful clothes when I returned. Eve was a yoga guru, or instructor. Sometimes she wore Jasper in his bright pink Baby Bjorn while leading her students through yoga classes she taught in her home. Eve's house was equally hyper colored, like something out of Alice in Wonderland. Eve was with us for about five months. When I decided to make the move back to Ballard, I took my time telling Eve. It would not be logistically practical for her to watch Jasper anymore, it was a good twelve mile commute. A generation older than me, Eve had a wisdom I had grown to appreciate. We often chatted for a good while when I came home, or picked up Jasper. Moving day was hard - saying goodbye - tears came from out of nowhere. I don't know what we would've done without you.

Dan is someone I barely knew before Jasper was born. One of those vague bike race connections, the name was familiar, but could I recognize this person when not in his race kit? A common phenomenon among bike racers. Dan was one of those early visitors. And once Jasper and I moved back to the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, he would offer to watch Jasper. Can Jasper come over for the afternoon? You can go for a bike ride, how long do you need?? No hurry. I would think, Are you for real?? Dan has two kids, so Jasper got to spend the afternoon with a family. The bonus is that Dan is a firefighter and his wife works in the Nicu at a top rated hospital. Jasper could not be in better hands.

Jeannette is Jasper’s fairy godmother. We met in a Writing Children’s Literature class last spring. Jeannette was moved by Jasper’s story, and curious about how he was doing, whether we had family here, and if she could help. She is a retired preschool teacher who adores babies. She previously volunteered in an infant room back in Michigan, worked with an Autistic child. And she is an artist. Jeannette’s genre is fairies, she writes about them and creates them. Her tiny fairies are made from various materials, she knits teeny mittens for them. The fairies live in beautiful fairy houses made from gourds. Jeannette comes over every week to spend time with Jasper. When I open the door, Jasper reaches for her as if she was a grandma coming to visit. He gives her Big Hugs, the kind he gives me. Once, when heading out for a brisk bike ride during Jeannette time, she said to me, You get your endorphin fix by riding your bike. I get mine from Jasper.

Other Magical People include my special mom friends - moms with special needs kids of their own - who offer to watch Jasper when I have a job interview or an urgent medical appointment of my own. They make the work of caring for more than one child appear effortless, and seem to genuinely enjoy time with Jasper. And then there are Jasper’s teachers and therapists, who I cannot say enough good things about. Jasper attends school two days each week. Every time I pick him up after class, his teachers tell me what a great day he had, how he drank from a cup by himself, or chose to do art, or put his mat away after circle time. Things I sometimes had a hard time imagining he would ever do. I feel such gratitude for them, for what they are doing for my son, it is hard to put it into words.

These Magical People fell into our lives. I did not have to do the hard work of seeking them out - they found us.

1 comment:

  1. Brenda,
    I am glad that you have magical people in your and Jasper's lives. In turn, I am sure that you are magic to others as well.